Dark Chocolate

I love dark chocolate. Sure, regular milk chocolate is still delicious but I would pick dark chocolate any day. And please don't even bother talking to me if you think white chocolate deserves to live, it isn't even made of the same part of the cocoa plant and if you ask me it tastes like wax! Dark chocolate is the thing for me and I crave it.
When I was living in Florence the grocery store I shopped at had an amazing dark chocolate bar, divided into 12 squares, each one full of dark chocolate ganache. Heavenly! I would buy one almost every week and my goal was to make it last until the weekend. Every night I would break off 3 squares and see how long I could make them last. My roommates teased me mercilessly for my freakish eating habits. However, this was the way I could satisfy both halves of my personality. The half that MUST have dark chocolate and the half that knows I can't eat a candy bar everyday or I will explode.
It it the same way with M&M's, a company who has finally had the good sense to start producing dark chocolate M&M's! I get my tiny little bowl full and then see how many commercial breaks they can survive. I have to eat them in patterns. One color at a time, or alternating colors. Usually I eat my least favorite M&M color (orange) first, then yellow, red, green and finally blue! If there are equal numbers of colors that is the best, but hey, I'm not particular or anything....
Also, I blame my M&M issues on my Mom (how Freudian of me) because she too loves them and eats them in small portions. Also, my Mom hides them. No, not like Easter eggs but like, "I don't want to share these". Sometimes in her house you open a random cupboard to find a bag of M&M's back behind the canned green beans or the Christmas china. It is hilarious and adorable.
So, if you ever eat out with me just know that I don't want the vanilla ice cream or the apple pie, I want to Death By Chocolate Cake and I will not be sharing.



When I see the mini-sized rainbow Chiclet packs at the store I am always reminded of how fortunate I am. This may seem like a strange trigger for thankfulness, so I will elaborate.

For many years of my childhood my Dad sang in the Philadelphia Boy's Choir and Men's Chorale (no my Dad wasn't a 15 year old soprano...he was in the Men's Chorale). This meant that once a week he drove into Philly for practice and then on the weekends he usually had a performance. During the busy singing season, such as Christmas time, there were usually a lot more performances at churches and parties.

Then in the summer they went on a "tour". Always to someplace exotic and exciting. My Dad went on tours to places like Australia, South Africa, Prague and The Czech Republic. He always brought us back something really neat, not just touristy stuff but something more lasting. We got ostrich eggs from Australia and hand painted dolls from Prague.

Then one summer my Dad's choir went on a tour to Cuba. This was no small undertaking considering the relationship the US has with Cuba. Many special allowances had to be made to take a group of this size to Cuba. They were told that on part of their tour they would play baseball with a group of poor children there. Each man or child was asked to bring two baseball gloves, one for himself and one for a child (of course they left both behind). Many of the men and boys in the choir decided it was a good idea to take candy also.

This is where my Mom, my sister K and I came into the planning. It was our goal to acquire as many packets of mini-sized rainbow Chiclets as we could find. The grocery store cashier must have thought we were off our rockers as he rang up about 80 packs of Chiclets (all they had on the shelves and in the stock room).

I was young when my Dad went on these tours so I only remember snip-its of his stories. I remember his friend got pick-pocketed twice, I remember they locked their Director in the airplane bathroom, I remember they sang on the famous bridge in Prague (St. Charles?) I remember that the mural in Soweto South Africa was a gorgeous painting of a loving black Jesus and I remember that the kids in Cuba thought Chiclets were the greatest thing on earth.

My family was always thankful for what we had and my parents were careful to remind us how lucky we were. Maybe that is why I don't remember having any "aha" moments about how fortunate I was as a child. I do know that hearing about the conditions in Cuba and how those children played baseball barefoot and reveled in 50 cents worth of Chiclets made me more aware of how lucky I was.

You do not see a lot of mini-sized rainbow Chiclet packs these days. Maybe it is because the other options have pushed them out or because, lets face it, they don't last too long. So when I see them, as I did earlier today, I ALWAYS think of buying them for the Cuban kids and that in turn makes me count my blessings. I lead a blessed life. My family is safe, educated, well fed and healthy. My husband and I are both employed and we have excellent health care. We live in a home that is too big for us and we enjoy little luxuries. I am blessed but sometimes I am also a complainer.

I am glad I have the Chiclets to remind me to count every blessing.